Overclocking - The Basics

Date: 2005-07-10 20:26:40


A lot of people see overclocking as an intimidating hobby, that should only be attempted by the extreme or rich. Overclocking, when done moderately, or extremely, CAN be safe, by no means ever fool proof and 100% safe, as running anything beyond what you’re paying for is a risk, when handled with care you can achieve anything from a minor boost in performance to a great overclock, surpassing other models of the same part in speed. If attempting overclocking without basic knowledge of how it works, or what you are doing, and what to do if X happens, you can cause yourself many headaches, and possibly damage your hardware. There are many “rules of thumb” people use, and as hardware is constantly evolving, more are being made and new ways of doing things are constantly being discovered.
Overclocking is a science, as it were. It takes skill, knowledge, and patience.
Too many people expect to much without putting in any effort on the learning side of the culture. If you are one of these, you are NOT eligible to be an overclocker


*Damaged hardware due to overclocking should NOT be RMA’d. It is illegal, and unethical.* If anything, at least mention that you overclocked it. They might RMA it for you anyways...

Occasionally you’ll run across a forum member, or even a forum that condones this illegal and very bad practice. Overclocking voids any and all warranties provided by the manufacturer. Some manufacturers don’t mind certain overclocking, and many are now beginning to sell and warranty parts for a higher voltage, or pre-overclocked “stock” speeds. Some companies to look for items like this are OCZ, BFG, Abit, and Gainward.

In many ways, overclocking itself, is undetectable by companies- but that does not mean RMA if it dies! RMA'ing stuff you kill causes manufacturers to charge more for stuff. That’s not cool.

How do I start?

Now we can get to the good stuff! When it comes to overclocking, there are many ways of going about getting the most out of your system. Most importantly, you must cover the basics of what will be changing while overclocking- Power usage, and heat output. After that, you can begin tweaking your system for every last MHz it has inside of it! If you aren't familiar with computers, you will first want to get familiar with the "jargon" used in this article. If you've been around a while, you can probably skip this section by clicking HERE

This article is written from the view that you can think for yourself- I cannot, and will not provide every little step to overclocking, because overclocking is not always step by step. One of the many uses of overclocking is learning. Trial and error will usually not kill any components, especially as manufacturers continue to engineer more and more idiot proof components(or, at least attempt to). The second and third basic uses of overclocking are the obvious performance advantages, and the learning of how to troubleshoot, and become more familiar with how the hardware behaves.


  • FSB - Probably one of the most important, and common acronyms used today in overclocking. It stands for Front Side Bus. The FSB is the link from CPU core to memory controller, and it is usually in MHz.
  • CPU - Central Processing Unit. A vital component that counts really, really fast.
  • PSU - Power Supply Unit. The big grey box that provides juice(power) to all of the components in a system.
  • HDD - Hard disk drive. Stores information (windows).
  • P4 - Pentium 4
  • P4 connector - 4 Pin connector in the ATX spec created by intel as an auxiliary power source for the CPU.
  • HTT - Hypertransport tunnel- Used in place of the FSB for A64's(Almost).
  • LDT - HTT multiplier. Modify this to keep the HTT in spec.
  • Multi - Multiplier
  • Vdimm - Dimm(ram) voltage
  • VDD - Chipset voltage
  • Vgpu - GPU voltage
  • VDDQ - GPU Memory BUS voltage.
  • VTT - Vdimm tracking voltage
  • Vcore - CPU Voltage
  • DMM - Digital Multimeter
  • LN2 - Liquid nitrogen

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